Good morning gentlemen,
This morning marks the 163rd time that young men have gathered at the center of Belen Jesuit to begin a new academic year. It is the 163rd time that a Belen president has addressed his student body and set the tone for the new academic year. But even though we have been doing this for a very long time, we can never take it for granted because what we are initiating this morning is another year of forming men. Let me be clear, we are here to form men.
You’ll notice the new banners that hang on the columns in the central patio. I want to point out one in particular. Back there to your left is a banner with the words Esto Vir. It’s a Latin phrase that 80 years ago the Jesuits adopted to set the standard for their formation. Esto Vir means simply “Be a Man.”
But not a man as the world all too often understands it. Not a man as often erroneously depicted in movies or music, on playing fields, the business sector or the political arena. No, Esto Vir is to be a man as intended by God, our Creator when he fashioned us in his own image and likeness.
That kind of man is a man of compassion, whose heart bleeds when he hears the cry of the poor or sees the suffering of the lonely and destitute. A man of courage who stands up for what is right and denounces what is wrong; who is not afraid to think and learn and explore. A man of commitment who is faithful to his obligations and fulfills his responsibilities. A man of deep rooted faith, that never loses hope, and who always loves God above all things and his neighbor as himself. A man of the magis, always ready to do more. A man of the cura personalis, always ready to grow in all aspects of his life. A man for others, always ready to serve.
We are a Catholic school and as a Catholic school we are consumed with a passion to do everything ad majorem dei gloriam, for the greater glory of God, and are first in line to respond to the same mandate that our founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, gave to his Jesuits in 1541, ignem mittire in terram, go and set the world on fire.
These thirteen banners that surround us are constant reminders of who and what we are. They are the standards that define the man we are called to form; the man you are called to be. If you choose to be here and stand shoulder to shoulder with tens of thousands of others who have come before you, then these thirteen directives are not simply suggestions, but commandments… no exception.
So as president of Belen Jesuit, let me present to you the road map for fulfilling your task. Allow me, gentlemen, to provide for you the model or image of a real man. It is the image of the man who lords over this central patio, the image of the man who lords over this school and its history, it is the image of the man who should lord over our lives.
Gentlemen, look no further than the man Jesus Christ. If you want to measure the true worth of a man, use Jesus as your yardstick. For no one in the history of our race embodied what it truly is to be a man than Jesus Christ. I warn you, the world will present you various alternatives, enticing figures whose fame and fortune have a worldly allure that is attractive and tempting, but don't be fooled. There is no greater example of manhood than Jesus Christ. Only he perfectly fulfills the virtues that are expressed in these banners that surround us, only he perfectly fulfills the virtues that should define us.
You will see that throughout the year we will hold various school wide assemblies in this very patio, assemblies that will sing the praises of our students and their accomplishments, everything from state championships to academic or artistic achievements, but for as varied as these events may be the one constant, that will always be present, is this image of Jesus Christ. It is this image that will always remind us that any accomplishment that we choose to recognize here pales in comparison to the greatest accomplishment in human history... the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Gentlemen, he is our model, he is our guide, he is the standard, he is why we are here and have been here for 162 years.
Do not be embarrassed or ashamed to embrace him, to pray to him, to profess his name.
What he calls you to and expects from you is no small task, but you are not on your own. Every Jesuit, every administrator, every teacher, coach, and member of the staff is here to help you, we are here to support and encourage you. Along the way and throughout this journey you inevitably will fall, but Esto Vir means you simply get up. On occasion you will grow tired, but Esto Vir means you simply push ahead. And I assure you, if you remain true to this call, you will be a man.
May our Lady of Belen be your constant support and her Son Jesus Christ your strength. And prepare yourselves for the best year of your life.
Our Lady of Belen...pray for us.